I remember being a kid and hating every night when my mom made me pack my lunch. The horror! The pain! The torture! I think once I told my mom I’d rather starve then make my lunch. All the cool kids bought their lunch. I pretty much took a sandwich (turkey and cheese from the bulk pack from Costco), a fruit snack (gushers were all the rage), and some type of fruit. The fruit was always bruised by the time I got to school, making it severely unappetizing. Every now and then I would be inspired by American Girl magazine to get creative with my lunch. Unfortunately, the fun was short-lived and making lunch quickly returned to be being a chore. Plus, I just looked on as all the other kids (whose parents didn’t really love them) ate pizza, soda, cookies, Doritos, Hot Cheetos…lucky!
Looking back I guess I have my mother to thank (again) for my healthy lifestyle habits. However, I still understand why making lunch, for lack of a better term, sucks. First of all, if you do it at night, you don’t get to eat it right away so you have to think of things that will last and not get soggy. Second, if you don’t have access to a microwave, your options are limited. Lastly, if you make your lunch in the morning you’re likely rushing, and everyone knows you can’t rush culinary genius. Not to mention, settling back into a school routine for students can be tough after the long glorious summer days of freedom. If you have a real job this fall season, it’s just as hard. Even though you didn’t have the same summer freedom, it’s darker outside both when you wake up and when you get home.
Alas! I am here to help! There is a great way to break up this monotonous return to the grind and seemingly boring task by sprucing up your lunches with these fun ideas.
Chicken and Tuna Salad isn’t just for old people
This stuff is so good when made right. In addition, you can make one batch and eat it for three days (or longer if you have a stomach of steel). Eat it on bread, crackers, lettuce or by itself. Just make sure to pack in Tupperware so it doesn’t make everything else soggy.
Ingredients needed: Mayo, Mustard, Salt, pepper, lemon zest, juice, parsley, green/red onion, and Tuna or Chicken.
Tuna Salad: add sweet relish
Chicken Salad: add grapes & BBQ chicken seasoning
When it looks good, it feels good
Colorful roasted veggies are great, you can make a whole batch and use them in sandwiches, salads, or this yummy wrap.
Ingredients needed: Assorted roasted veggies (bell peppers, zucchini, and red onion), basil aioli (chop basil and mix with mayo), feta cheese, arugula, and roll into a flour tortilla.
When I dip, you dip, you dip
Dips are a handy thing to have around, to eat with cut veggies, or dip turkey and cheese in.
Ingredients needed: Fage plain yogurt, chopped “seafood” herbs (chervil, dill, parsley, and tarragon), lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt.
Tip: Always pack a sweet snack…for those days that work is just hard:
A sweet treat at the end of your lunch makes it feel like more of a complete meal. Homemade Rice Krispies treats are a quick and easy snack and they pack well. Try the recipe below, or just add butterscotch chips for a more refined flavor.
Also now that we are all adults and have microwaves at work, these three meals make really good lunch leftovers: lasagna, stir fry, braised beef. Something about the way the flavors meld makes it that much better next day.
So cheers to you at lunch! Bringing your own lunch doesn’t have to be a chore, and think of all the time and money you’ll save!